I already said in a past post (although it might have been on the Lydiard anaerobic thread, I forget) that I agree that the idea of peaking once a year is no longer the best way for the many commitments modern athletes have.
But there's a difference between "while still viable, a plan adhering to Lydiard principals would need to be modified for the modern needs of an athlete" and "one part of Lydiard is outdated, so we have to throw the whole model out."
I've been trying to argue from the beginning (both on this thread and the other one IQ100 first showed up on) that it isn't that black and white.
It's like "oh, one little bit of Lydiard is out. Therefore, his system is junk." No. That's not right- Lydiard's principles are still viable today, they just need to be rearranged depending on the needs of the athletes- just like ANY program needs to be based on the needs of its athletes.
Oh, and for a distance runner in the last 20 years who uses a Lydiard program? Craig Mottram. Not an Olympic medalist or world record holder, yet, but he's world class, anyway.
Lastly, there isn't "no evidence" that long runs help. How about all the evidence that Dr. Peter Snell, a premier exercise physiologist, has accrued over the years? I would think Dr. Snell has some idea of what it means to be a world class runner; he used to be pretty decent on the New Zealand club scene.
I'm no Lydiardite, but there are things Lydiard brought to the table that no one else had done before him. I think his contributions should be given as much credit as Peter Coe's and Gerschler's and Van Aaken's and Cerutty's and Zatopek's and Stampfl's.
If I come down heavily on the side of the "Lydiard Cultists" its because I think they're being unfairly attacked.
When I look at the training of elite athletes, I try to find common threads instead of the differences. If 90% of elite athletes do one particular kind of training, then I can logically conclude such training is beneficial, and I should try to incorporate it.
When I look at history's best milers, a majority of the ones I studied ran long runs. Some ran long and easy, some long and steady, some long and fast. But many of the greatest ran long.
Maybe I was too hasty in saying they are "ESSENTIAL" for middle distance runners. But I sure think they're very important- and, for many mid-distance guys, the "missing ingredient" that's keeping them from getting to that next level. A weekly long run during prep periods is difficult to do, boring, and very, very unsexy. But I think they're as vital as repeats at mile pace.